Loro Piana

So instead of buying Tiffany or Burberry, as long rumoured, LVMH has snapped up Italian brand Loro Piana, known for their baby cashmere and vicuna, which take soft to a whole other level. It’s a strategic move, on many levels that go far beyond quantifiable profit, even in a world obsessed with putting a number on that amorphous thing known as “brand equity.” There are a lot of reasons why, but if I had to pick the most important, I’d settle on the following: family.  

Stuart McCullough, the CEO of Woolmark, wants to relaunch wool as a brand. A luxury brand. Woolmark, of course, is already a logo, and there are unquestionably luxury fibres (see cashmere, vicuna, silk), but to turn a fibre itself into a brand seems like – well, a challenge. Isn’t it a material? Can materials be brands? Is this the ultimate example of the contemporary belief that everything, but everything – people, dogs, washing machines – can be a brand? Maybe. But the does have two recent developments going for him. 

Today my colleague Scheherazade Daneshkhu has written a terrific piece about the luxury race to the vertical – the move among the big groups to own not only their own manufacturing and retail, but their suppliers – and lo! what should happened but yet more proof of the trend: Loro Piana has bought a majority stake in the Argentinian alpaca producer Sanin SA. It ain’t just about leather and python anymore: now fibers are in the mix. And I wonder how far it will go?